Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I'm In with the In-crowd

By Mary Margret Daughtridge

Today, April 1, is the official launch for SEALed With A Promise.

It's also my wedding anniversary.

It was tradition in my husband’s family to raise toasts at whatever sit-down meal preceded the wedding. In our case that was the wedding breakfast. My husband’s uncle stood up in a salt and pepper tweed sport coat, a pin stripe shirt, and a bright cobalt blue tie. I don’t remember the toast, but I’ll never forget how he introduced it.

“Mary Margret,” he said, bushy brows lowered in an admonitory look, “if you knew Everett the way we do, you wouldn’t marry him on April Fool’s.”

Everybody laughed for a full five minutes. We all knew Everett.

That’s the thing about wedding breakfasts. Not all the guests who will be at the ceremony later are not invited to it—only those who have fallen into the inner circle. They are the ones “in the know” at least on this one day.

Now there’s a funny thing about inner circles and in-crowds. They’re fluid and it can be hard to judge whether one is in and, if so, how far in. When it comes to weddings, there is however, one infallible measure. The more parties you are invited to, the further in you are. But the sine qua non of status is the wedding breakfast.

There’s another funny thing about in-crowds. Not everybody in one, knows it. A friend and I were talking about in-crowds in that cradle of all cliques: high school.

She said, “Oh, I wouldn’t know. I was never part of the in-crowd.”

“But…” I goggled at her for a moment, not sure if I was confused or if she was. “I thought you said you were president of the student body. And captain of the debate team. And president of the Beta Club. And...weren’t you on the girls’ basketball team?”

“Oh,” she said. “Yeah.”

In SEALed With a Promise, at a wedding breakfast I bring together two people who would both tell you that they are not now, nor have they ever been, part of any in-crowd.

Caleb has been all over the world, and done some amazing things, but this is the first wedding he’s ever been to, and he’s the best man. He’s studied etiquette books to prepare for his role (in his PDA he has a twenty-six item list of his duties), but a wedding at heart is a family affair. He was raised with no family at all except a single mother. He’s never been “in” a family. During the wedding rehearsal, with a Chief Petty Officer’s sensitivity to lines of command, as well as the more subtle currents of power that flow through any organization, he recognizes Emmie’s “in” status, and is puzzled by it.

Here's Emmie from his point of view.

Pickett and her sisters, who were her other attendants, were all remarkably pretty, remarkably poised women, while the friend [Emmie] had to be one of the blandest people he’d ever seen. It was like she intended to be a non-entity, but in a reverse way she stood out, precisely because there was nothing about her to draw the eye. Still, birds of a feather flock together. Puzzling how she could be Pickett’s friend was a way to keep himself entertained through the interminably silly proceedings. [the wedding rehearsal]

SEALs believed in rehearsal. A practice run for the ceremony was the first item on the three-day wedding agenda that had made total sense to Do-Lord—until he found out it was bad luck for the bride to rehearse her own part, so she sat on a pew, while the maid of honor pretended to be the bride. SEALs rehearsed one another’s roles all the time. But unless they thought Emmie would marry Jax if Pickett was out of commission, making her rehearse Pickett’s role in addition to her own didn’t make a lick of sense.

He also hadn’t seen why Emmie, whose arm was in a cobalt blue sling (the only colorful thing about her) had to mime bending down to straighten Pickett’s train, which as maid of honor was one of her duties. She shouldn’t have been doing it at all. Being able to use only one arm made her clumsy and it had to hurt like hell. He was standing right there, he could move the damn train. He’d give her credit, she hadn’t complained once, but he’d been so irritated after a while, he’d had to find a way to take his mind off it.

Emmie easily recognizes Caleb’s “in” status. She teaches biology at the local university. She’s familiar with jocks. True, Chief Petty Officer Caleb Dulaude isn’t a football star, he’s a SEAL. But really. Miami Dolphins, Navy SEALs—what’s the difference?

She knows the type. They’re the ones everyone wants to get close to. Most of them would never willingly be seen with her, and in fact, they believe they’ve done her favor when they show up for the biology elective for non-majors she teaches.

She’s prepared to be met with disdain when she must ask for Caleb's help. What she’s not prepared for is for him to act like suddenly they’re a couple. Of course, she doesn’t realize her inherited insider status with Senator Teague Calhoun (which means nothing to her) is exactly the chink in Calhoun’s armor that Caleb has been looking for.

Even outsiders want to be insiders sometimes. They can each see how the other is “in.” But even though they’re falling in love, until they define themselves as on the inside with each other they won't be ready for the happy ending.

So how about you? Have there been moments you knew you were in?

You can definitely be "in" with me. To celebrate the launch of SEALed With a Promise I'm giving away signed copies. The in-crowd will be the first two people who email me at . Be sure to mention this blog.


  1. Sounds intriguing... I like the idea of the 'in-crowd' versus the outsider, and which is really which?

  2. Hi MM!
    Slave came out a year ago today, and I think the April Fool's Day thing was good luck. SWAP sounds terrific!
    Congrats on the new release!

  3. Hey MM, Great blog! Do you know I've never heard that it's bad luck for the bride to practice her role at the rehearsal? I'm lucky my marriage has lasted almost 17 years since I walked right down that aisle at the rehearsal! And wedding breakfast is not part of the festivities up here in the north. Is that a southern tradition? Funny that I had also never heard of nor been to a bachelorette party until I met some people from south of the Mason-Dixon line. Do we all live in the same country?? :-)

    Love the in-crowd analogy. I'm one of 21 cousins, and we are a big, loud, often obnoxious group to break into. My husband knew he was in when they gave him a nickname and stopped trying to protect his feelings when they teased him. Of course he gives us SO much to work with...

    Congrats on Sealed with a Promise!! From one contemporary babe to another--can't wait to read it!

  4. Donna,
    One of my favorite ways of nudging my characters into growth is to take some expectation they have--it might not even be conscious--and twist it on its head.

    I can tell you think the same way.

    In-group/out-group is more like a theme or thread running through Promise than a actual plot element.

  5. Cheryl,

    Like you, I've found April Fool to be a very good day! :-)

  6. Marie,

    Since the wedding breakfast has been part of every wedding I was in the in-crowd of, I didn't know it wasn't done elsewhere!

    Maybe others can chime in an enlighten me on this point. Do people have wedding breakfasts where you live?

    As for the superstitions--they are endless and seem to grow yearly. It used to be the groom couldn't see the gown before the wedding. These days he can't see the BRIDE which means they must time their arrival at the breakfast very carefully.

  7. LAUNCH DAY!!!!! WhooHoo!!

    Congratulations, Mary Margret, both on your release and on sticking with Everett all these years! LOL!

    I can't wait to start reading "Promise." I have it on order and Amazon has shipped, so any day. Actually, my daughter will snatch it up first as she is between books while I am deep into Terry's "Destiny." It is wonderful to have so much to look forward to!

    Have a wonderful celebration! Take lots of geeky pictures of you with your book!

  8. As for wedding breakfasts - I have heard of the custom. Maybe somewhere in my southern roots or just that I live in California where there are no standard traditions but just a melting pot of everything. We did not have one, but we did have a lavish rehearsal dinner. So I know what you mean about the 'in crowd.' I knew exactly who to invite to our dinner.

  9. Congrats on your accomplishments today Mary Margret!

    I haven't been to a wedding breakfast, but I know they exist :)

  10. Congrats on the release, MM! Sounds excellent, as usual!

    I know my grandmother had a wedding breakfast, but I don't know anyone else who has. Heard of it, though...maybe it's just specific to certain areas or dependent on certain family traditions?

    I was never really an "in-crowd" person, but if we're talking families, I'm right in the middle of the gaggle that is the Castle clan:-) My family is like Marie' know you're accepted when everyone is teasing the crap out of you.

  11. Never been to a wedding breakfast. I think we should get Michele to weigh in on this one. For some reason, I'm thinking it's more of a British tradition that may have carried over in some parts of the country.

  12. Congratulations on both, MM!


  13. Hi! Congratulations, twice. I think I always thought I wasn't part of the "in crowd." I was one of the two standing watching and wondering. Then the other one left.

  14. Thanks for the good wishes, everyone!

    I'm truly surprised to learn a wedding breakfast is little known outside the South.

    Now I have to do more research! It could be an English custom that migrated. Eastern North Carolina was settled by the English.

  15. Sorry if I set off a freak out, MM!! That wasn't my intention!! :-)

  16. Sheila.


    People do have very different kinds of inclusion needs. I suspect you're "in" anywhere you want to be.

  17. Marie,

    No freak out. Research is the stuff of life to me. And it gave me the idea for a blog.

  18. Late to the party again!

    But couldn't miss the opportunity to say CONGRATS Mary Margret on the launch of SWAP! I really enjoyed reading SWAK and am looking forward to this one.

    Never heard of wedding breakfasts in my neck o the woods either. Also hadn't heard about the bad luck if the bride plays her part in rehearsal, but that does explain A LOT! LOL!


  19. MM! Sorry for chiming in late and congratulations on the launch! I read your lovely post and then was pulled away by a sick child. I really thought I had congratulated you and told you how much I'm looking forward to reading it. I adored your first book.

    Me? In the in crowd? No way. I was an outcast from 7th grade until the end of sophomore year.

    After I moved to a new high school, I was shocked to find I was no longer treated like a social pariah, but even though I wasn't unpopular, I wasn't willing to do what it took to climb the social ladder.

  20. Oh I loved this post, Mary Margret! I wasn't with the in-crowd, too shy, but a guy who was, shot spit wads at me in high school. Yeah, my mother always said guys were weird. Unsure what to do to get the guy to stop, I turned around and gave him a nice smile. He smiled back. All he'd wanted was my attention, and that was it. And then in my heart, I was part of the "in-crowd", at least for a minute. :)